The Prototype

Koray Benli
Graduate Student, College of Engineering

Medium

Audio

Abstract 

The prototype is a creative attempt to sonically capture and transform the fabrication process of a novel type of pneumatically activated systems (aka active textiles), which I have been developing as a part of my PhD research in Design Science program. For the Science as Art competition, my goal was to create a composition in a digital audio workstation (Ableton Live 11) only by using the recordings that document the process of fabricating an active textile prototype. Among the major fabrication steps, I selected eight of them, which would allow me capture field recordings sonically different from each other.

The prototype is a creative attempt to sonically capture and transform the fabrication process of a novel type of pneumatically activated systems that I have been developing as a part of my PhD research in Design Science program. A particular instance of these systems is internally tiled active textiles. These textiles provide an architecture based on layers of rigid tiles arrayed in regular patterns within an airtight bladder enabling its stiffness to be controlled as a function of vacuum pressure applied. A user can drape it over arbitrary objects, they can shape it into complex geometries, and they can rigidize it to keep its target form as illustrated below (Figure 1).

For the Science as Art competition, my goal was to create an audio composition in a digital audio workstation (Ableton Live 11) only by using the recordings that document the process of fabricating an active textile prototype. Among the major fabrication steps (some shown in Figure 2), I selected eight of them, which would allow me capture field recordings sonically different from each other.

I used TASCAM DR-05X linear PCM recorder to record all eight tracks listed below. The sample and bit rates were set to 44.1khz and 24 bit respectively, and sound input level was adjusted on an ad hoc basis.

CAPTURED RECORDINGS WITH BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS

01 – TPU Nylon Cutting: The source of this recording was thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) coated nylon fabric in rolled form was being cut into smaller pieces using a scissor. The gentle snipping sound was my main interest here. I used a tripod to securely position the recorder on a table and took several takes in order to adjust the input level by getting closer to the mic.

02 – CRICUT CNC Routing: The source of this recording was the smaller TPU nylon fabric pieces were being cut into precise rectangular shapes by using a CRICUT Maker, which is a desktop CNC cutting machine. My aim
was to capture the industrial rhythmic nature of the sound generated by this machine during the routing process.

03 – Duct Tape Tearing: The source of this recording was the duct tape being torn. The duct tape/painters tape pieces are used to secure the nylon fabric pieces on a 3D printer’s printing surface before the 3D printing process initialized. My aim was to capture a noise-like sound with faster attack and release time.

04 – 3D Printing: The source of this recording was a 3D printer extruding thermoplastic material on the nylon fabric. I took multiple takes to adjust the nature of the sound, input level, and to filter out the noise emanating from the fans on the machine. I tried to minimize one of the fan’s noises by blocking it by a rigid plate, but it didn’t help much. So, this recording ended up containing multiple layers of different types of sounds (drone, varying high pitches etc.).

05 – Hole Punching: The source of this recording was a hand-hold hole puncher punching a hole on the nylon fabric. Since the attack was too short, I thought this can be very useful for generating a percussive sound (i.e. kick, snare) for the composition.

06 – Nuts and Bolts Cluttering: The source of this recording was steel nuts, bolts, and pneumatic attachments being dropped over a metal plate. These components need to be attached to the nylon fabric to enable the control over air flow, hence the relative pressure inside the prototype. I took multiple takes to ensure that there is a variety regarding envelopes of the different cluttering (i.e. reverberation due to the metal plate after the first metal piece hitting it, or multiple pieces cluttering together and constructively/destructively interfering).

07 – Wrenches Cluttering: The source of this recording was myself searching a correct size wrench in a metal toolbox to tighten the attachments on the prototype. I focused on the resulting almost-glockenspiel-like/wind chimes-like musical quality of these steel pieces interacting with each other.

08 – Pneumatic Motor Pumping: The source of this recording was a running pneumatic pump that can provide relative pressure change in the airtight prototype on demand. The continuous humming/buzzing noise and the momentarily generated pressure release noises were of the main interests.